The Organization of American States (OAS, or, as it is known in the three other official languages, OEA) is an international organization, headquartered in Washington, D.C.. Its members are the thirty-five independent states of the Americas, although Honduras was suspended as a result of the June 28, 2009 coup d’état that expelled President Manuel Zelaya from office.
Simón Bolívar envisioned a league of American republics in 1826. For a man who once wrote, “Among the popular and representative systems of government I do not approve of the federal system: it is too perfect; and it requires virtues and political talents much superior to our own, “ he’d no doubt be impressed with the way the Organization of American States is moving into a bi-lingual, collaborative, 2.0 phase of existence.
States, is the highest level political gathering that brings together the current 34
democratically elected Heads of State and Governments, and a broad representation of stakeholders in the Western Hemisphere. The goal is to discuss common policy issues, affirm shared values, and to
commit to and follow up on concerted actions related to summit declarations at the national and regional level.
2010 marked a sharp move into the Gov 2.0 space for the OAS with the launch of the Summits Virtual Community (SVC) to serve the Summit of the Americas. The Drupal-based, bilingual online platform, which was developed by Oakton, Virginia based Bixal, was launched in June of 2010.
In the past, individuals and organizations had to travel to in-person meetings to participate in the important process of defining regional priorities and mandates on topics of vital interest. The new Summits Virtual Community allows individuals throughout Latin America, the U.S., and Canada to participate in these important efforts online, hand in hand with their governments. In addition to increasing the number of participants and organizations in the process, the SVC will provide a platform for networking and collaboration on follow up efforts to see that Summit mandates are acted on by all participants in the process.
features, with heavy use of multi-lingual localization, which will facilitate the incorporation of additional languages, specifically Portuguese and French, as will be required in the future. At the time of this writing, the platform allows for full participation by both English and Spanish preferring audiences through separate language forums.
To promote community and collaboration, both individuals and organizations are able to create profiles in English and Spanish. A private messaging functionality allows members, if they choose to be contacted, to reach out to others without exposing members’ contact info. Site administrators and forum and group moderators are able to cross post content to relevant communities making custom audience targetting easy. Additionally, bilingual users who want to follow discussions in both languages can toggle from the group in one language to the other with the click of a button.
The OAS Summits Virtual Community, while a first step, is certainly laying a cornerstone for future multilingual diplomatic efforts in an engaging 2.0 format.